Ok. The finale is today...actually it has already aired in the UK. It will be airing where I live shortly. Although I will not be able to watch it live cause I'm going to this Beatles tribute show I got a ticket for off Amazon Local. Will watch it when I get home probably.
Now, since I am so far behind with the Series 7 Part 2 analyses, I decided, oh WTH, I'm just going to do an analysis mega-post, analyzing multiple episodes at once. I will probably never do this again. In fact I hope I don't have to. But I just don't have the patience to do separate posts for four episodes in one go right now. Cause it takes at least 2 hours to do each, and I don't have that much time before I have to leave anyway.
Series 7, Episode 10: "Hide"
I'm not sure how I feel about "Hide." I wouldn't say it's my favorite of the season. It was written by the same guy who wrote "The Rings of Akhaten," but it wasn't nearly as good of an episode by any means.
The episode is supposed to be a good, old-fashioned ghost story. But in the end, the ghost ends up not being a ghost at all, but this time-traveler from the future who's stuck in a pocket universe. And the psychic girl in the story has a connection to her by blood, which is why they are able to sense each other. As interesting of an idea as that is, I would have rather had it be a regular old ghost story. But that never happens in Doctor Who, cause of course The Doctor doesn't believe in ghosts. Still, modern-day Clara's first line in the show (from the end of "The Snowmen") was "I don't believe in ghosts," so it would've been interesting to see that belief tested.
Also, the ending of this episode seemed very rushed and honestly didn't make any sense. They seriously could've cut out all that nonsense about the monsters who were in love and just focused on the bit about the time-traveler who looks like Martha Jones. (She does!) I didn't get the part either where we find out the whole reason The Doctor was there in the first place was to find out if Psychic Girl could give him any clues on Clara's identity. It's not a bad scene writing-wise, but it is kinda a letdown. It could've been either written differently or maybe weaved into the episode instead of being sprung on us at the end.
On the bright side, this episode did have some nice Clara/Eleven scenes. And the scenes of The Doctor alone in the forest -- the source of the famous line from the Series 7 Part 2 trailers "I am The Doctor, and I am afraid" -- were very well-acted by Matt Smith. People complain that Eleven seems to HAVE to make speeches all the time, but you know what? Any time he gives a speech, Matt Smith nails it. The speech in "The Rings of Akhaten" particularly. He had quite a bit of theater experience before being cast as The Doctor, and I think it shows. (Maybe I'm just saying this having done live theater myself. And it's kinda part and parcel of acting in the UK that you do theater no matter what - something we really don't do in the U.S. But still). Also, the scene where Clara's trying to get the TARDIS to help her save the Doctor was a really great scene on Jenna-Louise Coleman's part.
So, it's an iffy episode for me. ^_^
Series 7, Episode 11: "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS"
Ever since I heard about this episode, I was eagerly looking forward to it. This was also the first episode I had the opportunity to see live, though I actually did not see it live cause I was doing something else while waiting for it to come on and lost track of time. As soon as I realized my mistake, though, I promptly stopped what I was doing to watch it.
I really liked this episode. The BBC promised we'd see more of the TARDIS than ever before, and they did not disappoint. Mostly what we saw was through Clara's eyes as she wandered around, lost in the TARDIS, and tried to stay one step ahead of these creepy zombie creatures.
The best room we saw, by far, was that library...
I'd heard we would see the library, and so I was really happy when we finally did. And it's this big, multi-floored, old-fashioned place, which just seems absolutely perfect. It's exactly as I thought it would be. Now, granted, it could have been more of a high-tech sort of setup, kind of like the Jedi Archives from Star Wars: Episode II:
And that would've even made sense. But the old-fashioned look is just better. The Time Lords are an old-fashioned sort.
And how awesome was that liquid Gallifreyan encyclopedia?!
Now, ok, it seems weird for an encyclopedia to be in liquid form, I guess. But it was just kinda neat. And apparently, if tipped over, they exude a sort of mist in which voices can be heard, as we see when Clara knocks one over by accident. (BBC One confirmed that the voice we hear is that of Timothy Dalton, a.k.a. Rassilon from "The End of Time"). At any rate, they kind of reminded me of the prophecy orbs in the Hall of Prophecy in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
Also, I noted after looking at a screenshot of that bit again recently that there are actually drawers beneath the shelf with the Encyclopaedia Gallifreya on it. Wonder what's in those drawers?
There was a little confusion about the library scene in that Clara finds a book called The History of the Time War, which theoretically only The Doctor could have written since he is the only remaining survivor of the Time War. And assumedly such a book would be in Gallifreyan, which is the one language the TARDIS doesn't translate. Yet, even the title on the cover of the book is in English:
The labels on the Encyclopaedia Gallifreya bottles are also in English, which is weird seeing as those would definitely be in Gallifreyan even if the book wasn't. Not sure if this is a production error or not. I suppose it will make more sense once I see the finale and find out who Clara really is. (We ARE going to find out! It's been confirmed!)
Also, we find out at the end of the episode that Clara read The Doctor's name in the Time War book. And we know it must've been his real name, based on how he reacts:
CLARA: I don't want to forget. Not all of it. The library. I saw it. You were mentioned in a book.
DOCTOR: I'm mentioned in a lot of books.
CLARA: You call yourself Doctor. Why do you do that? You have a name. I've seen it. In one corner of that tiny
DOCTOR: If I rewrite today, you won't remember. You won't go looking for my name.
CLARA: You'll still have secrets.
DOCTOR: It's better that way.
But...none of this matters, because of the ending.
Okay, so the ending of "Hide" was weird, but the ending of this episode was worse. What I think happened was that the writers wrote themselves into a corner, creating a situation that they couldn't figure out how to fix. So what do they do? Insert a convenient "return to the past now" button to reset everything back to the beginning. As if the entire episode didn't happen. What. The. Heck. Really?
By "return to the past now" I mean like what they do in one of my favorite shows, a French animated series named Code Lyoko. Whenever the damage that XANA (the evil AI that was the main enemy) did needed to be fixed, or someone found out about the factory and stuff and needed to have their memory erased, or what have you, Jeremie would activate a time reversion program on the supercomputer, which was activated using the command "Return to the past, now" and a keystroke. Therefore, everything would revert to before the incident, but Jeremie and co. would retain their memories of the event. Here's what it looks like in the new half live-action/half animation Code Lyoko series Code Lyoko Evolution, to give you an idea of what I mean:
The ending aside, though, it was a great episode. The salvage crew were also really great, and the storyline for them was really great. The twist about Tricky - that he was not really an android but actually the brother of the other two, who had been seriously injured in a salvaging accident and lost his sight and memory, but who was restored to life using cybernetic parts - threw me for a loop.
Also, the Doctor looks nice without a jacket. He should dress like that more often.
Series 7, Episode 12: "The Crimson Horror"
This was I think one of my favorite episodes of this season, as creepy and horror-movie-esque as it is. Unlike the last two episodes, it had a proper ending. Plus it has more the air of an old-time mystery story than it does a sci-fi story, much the way "The Angels Take Manhattan" and "The Snowmen" did, which is quite fun. And, despite guest star Rachael Sterling saying beforehand that it would be camp, it doesn't seem camp at all. "Camp" means something's over-the-top, effeminate and exaggerated, and the episode doesn't seem that way at all.
Also, this episode was different in that instead of being from The Doctor and his Companion's point of view, it's told from the point of view of The Doctor's friends Vastra, Jenny, and Strax - or "Team Vastra" as I like to call them. (It seems the more proper name for them is the "Paternoster Gang," after the street where Vastra's home is located in London, Paternoster Row). And I have loved Team Vastra since I first saw them in "The Snowmen." Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart, and Dan Starkey make a great team. Dan Starkey in particular I swear must be the funniest man alive, the way he delivers Strax's particular brand of deadpan Sontaran humor. He can take a line about something totally un-funny, like grenades or trenches of acid, and make it seem absolutely hilarious.
The reveal that The Doctor had himself fallen victim to the "Crimson Horror" was definitely a shock:
Yeah, not a huge fan of Red Zombie Doctor.
But he "healed" himself in the end, and seeing him work with Team Vastra again was quite a treat. There wasn't enough of it in "The Snowmen." Of course, I haven't seen "A Good Man Goes to War" yet, so I'll get to see it again there, as well as in today's finale, in which Team Vastra is also supposed to appear.
There wasn't really anything for Clara to do in this episode, unfortunately. But Jenna handled the role well anyway, as she does with excellence, and I liked her in that last scene with the kids a lot. Some people have wondered why that scene was there, but I thought it was a nice way to set up for the finale by making Clara aware of Victorian Clara for the first time (via a photograph). It also helps to explain why the kids she is a nanny for, Angie and Artie, show up in the next episode, "Nightmare in Silver" - they basically blackmail her into letting them travel with her and The Doctor, saying that otherwise they'll tell on her to their dad.
One vibe I got from this episode is that it seemed very Edgar Allan Poe-like. And as if the feel of it wasn't enough, there's this line from villain Mrs. Gillyflower:
GILLYFLOWER: Can I offer you something? Tea? Seed cake? Oh, a glass of Amontillado?
Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" anyone?
The whole religious basis of Mrs. Gillyflower's plan was, I admit, rather disturbing for me. While stories of people using doomsday messages to lure people into a plan like this are not unheard of, it was still unsettling, as a Christian. But I went with it, somehow. You have to remember these are just fictional stories.
Also, the storyline with Ada...oh man. I love that, even though she was blind and helpless herself, she still had the mercy to save The Doctor from being thrown into the river like the other rejects and instead kept him hidden away, defying her mother to take care of him. And even though he was in a zombie state that whole time, he remembers her, and he returns the favor:
(Ada is still crying in the corner when the Doctor and Clara enter.)
ADA: Who is that? Who is there?
(The Doctor takes her hand and runs it over his face.)
ADA: You. It's you. My monster. You've come back. But you're
DOCTOR: Warm. And alive, thanks to you, Ada. You saved me from your mother's human rubbish tip. Now then, what's wrong?
ADA: She does not want me, monster. I am not to be chosen. Perhaps it was my own sin, the blackness in my heart that my father saw in me.
DOCTOR: Ada, no. That's nonsense. Stupid, backward nonsense, and you know it. You know it.
CLARA: What is it?
ADA: Who is that?
CLARA: I'm, I'm a friend. A friend of his.
ADA: Then you are fortunate indeed. It isn't good to be alone.
DOCTOR: Now, Ada, I need you to tell me something. Who is Mister Sweet? Ada?
ADA: Oh, dear monster
DOCTOR: Please, tell me.
ADA: I cannot. Even now, I cannot. I cannot betray Mama.
DOCTOR: Well, come with us, then. There's something you need to know.
DOCTOR: Now, Ada, I'd love to stay and help clear up the mess, but
ADA: I know, dear monster. You have things to do.
DOCTOR: And what about you?
ADA: Oh, there are many things a bright young lady can do to occupy her time. It's time I stepped out of the darkness and into the light.
DOCTOR: Good luck, Ada. You know, I think you will be just
(He kisses her cheek.)
Overall, a great episode. After this episode aired, a rumor started that Team Vastra might get their own spin-off (I think this came about from Matt Smith's comment in one of the "inside look" clips where he said they should have their own show). I hope they do, because I would for sure watch it.
Mark Gatiss was the writer here again. I swear, that man is brilliant. Actually, one of the "Inside Look" clips revealed that Steven Moffat was going to write the episode originally, but found he just couldn't make it work, so he passed on the work to Gatiss. I'm kinda glad, actually. Not that Moffat couldn't have handled it; he did write "A Good Man Goes to War" after all and thus more or less created Team Vastra. But I think he was smart to hand it on and to focus his talents instead on writing the two episodes he wrote for this season - the opener "The Bells of Saint John" and today's finale.
Series 7, Episode 13: "Nightmare in Silver"
Otherwise known as the Cybermen episode by Neil Gaiman that we've heard so much about.
This episode got so much hype leading up to it, it's not even funny. I mean, I've never even read anything by Neil Gaiman, or even seen his other Doctor Who episode, "The Doctor's Wife." But from reading all the hype leading up to this episode, I was really excited to see it. Even though the Cybermen for me are the scariest monsters ever.
Gaiman said early on that, when given the job to write this episode, he was given this mission by Steven Moffat: "make the Cybermen scary again." And I say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. This was the first episode to feature the Cybermen since "Closing Time" in Series 6, and the first time I'd seen them since the Series 2 finale (and most of "The Tomb of the Cybermen"), and they are definitely scary again. They got a sleek, new look, for one:
Plus, now apparently they can use any kind of organic parts, not just human parts, to make their Cybermen. Which makes them even more of a threat.
Essentially, this is an episode much in the same vein as "The Tomb of the Cybermen," in that it involves a group of people who believe the Cybermen to have been extinct for years, only to find out they are very, very wrong. In that episode, the story was set in a scary tomb on Telos, the Cybermen's home planet, while here it is set at Hedgwick's World of Wonders, which is, according to The Doctor, the greatest amusement park that ever is or will be - or at least it was:
Matt Smith was amazing in this episode, if only for the reason that he basically had to play this Jekyll/Hyde thing the majority of the time thanks to The Doctor getting turned into a Cyber Planner. (This is represented by this weird Cyberman tech embedded on his face). The story of Jekyll and Hyde is one Steven Moffat is very familiar with - he did a whole miniseries based off of it named Jekyll. And I'm familiar with it myself now, having seen the Jekyll & Hyde musical not long ago. Basically, the Cyber Planner consciousness/programming keeps trying to take over The Doctor's brain, but the real Doctor keeps fighting to retain control of it, resulting in him switching back and forth between the two personalities. It was a big story twist - and a quite remarkable plot seeing as Gaiman had said in some interview that he'd originally had trouble finding something for The Doctor to do in this episode. And Matt Smith pulled it off in excellent fashion. It must have taken SO much work for him to get that right. But whatever time he spent doing that was time well spent.
Remember how I said in the last episode Clara didn't have much to do? Well, that's definitely not true of this episode. In this episode, she is right in the middle of the action, along with her two charges Angie and Artie, who also got taken along for the TARDIS ride in this episode (as a result of their blackmail from "The Crimson Horror"). The Doctor puts her in charge of the forces fighting the Cybermen, and she leads them with ease (and perhaps a bit of snark), even though she's probably never had authority over anything in her life except the kids she nannies for. The famous shot of her with the Big Honking Gun from the Series 7 Part 2 trailers is from this episode, and boy does she handle that gun well.
Much of this episode involves The Doctor playing a game of chess against the Cyber Planner:
The stakes being that the Cybermen get The Doctor's mind if he loses (including knowledge of time travel), while if The Doctor wins, he gets to keep his mind, AND the Cybermen will release Angie and Artie, who they have partially converted. Not only is it crazy to see someone play chess against himself, but as the episode climaxes and we suddenly realize that there are actually millions of Cybermen hidden on the planet, the chess game actually begins to directly affect the battle outside, which is kinda cool.
In the end, the Doctor wins the game, the Cybermen are destroyed, and The Doctor, Clara, and the surviving members of the resistance movement escape. The unassuming little man Porridge (played by Warwick Davis) is revealed to in fact be the Emperor of the empire in whose era the story is set, though he admits he doesn't like being Emperor, which is why he hid out on the planet - as well as the fact that he feels responsible for the deaths of those in the galaxy the Empire blew up in order to defeat the Cybermen about 1,000 years earlier. I did not expect that he would be the Emperor. That was a complete shock to me. I didn't even think we'd meet said Emperor. It was kinda cool, though, and Warwick Davis plays it well.
Some fans have complained about how, in the ending scene, The Doctor doesn't protest Porridge and co. blowing up the planet with all the Cybermen still on it. And I see their point; that does seem like something he would be VERY against. Remember, this is the same man who not only was forced (more or less) to blow up Gallifrey, but also got really, really angry at Harriet Jones for ordering the Sycorax to be shot down in "The Christmas Invasion" and at his own cloned self (the Meta-Crisis Doctor/Tentoo) for committing genocide against the Daleks in "Journey's End." Yet he doesn't protest at all. My only guess here is that it's because only the Cybermen are there -- no innocents are left, since all the non-Cybermen survivors of the fight are on board the Emperor's flagship with him. And honestly he doesn't like the Cybermen, and never has - though he doesn't hate them like he hates the Daleks - so maybe he doesn't really care what happens to them. Oh, and also he does technically give a reason for the planet needing to be destroyed:
DOCTOR: Out of my head and redistributed across three million Cybermen right now, and about to wake them all up, kill us and start constructing a spaceship. We need to destroy this planet before they can get off it.
Warwick Davis, one of the primary guest stars for the episode, was really great. I'd seen him before ages ago in Willow and then of course in Harry Potter as Flitwick and Griphook. He really portrayed Porridge as this funny, yet poignant character, and it was easy to sympathize with him, which is what you want out of a character like that. Bravo!
In short, the episode was brilliant. Brilliantly written. Well done, Mr. Gaiman.
Doctor Who pictures from GRANDECAPS. Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts. Jedi Archives picture from Culture Virtuelle. Harry Potter pic from Nerdapproved.